Just over a decade ago, Twitter was introduced to the online world as a platform for users to share information with their followers and friends. Within its first year, more than 60,000 tweets were being sent per day; a mere fraction compared to the 500 million tweets that are sent per day in 2018.
So, what’s all the hype? Apart from the ability to keep updated with friends, share your thoughts on a public platform, and initiate conversation with complete strangers from around the world, what motivates us to tweet, retweet, and hashtag 500 million times a day?
Well apart from having access to an open communication platform, us mere mortals succumb to Twitter for one other reason; celebrities. From politicians, to famous singers, actors, models, rappers and socialites – Twitter has given us the ultimate tool to connect with celebrities in a way that we have never been able to before.
Celebrities are now able to share as little or as much as they like with their fans. Whether they’re content is deemed to be more controversial and personal, ahem, Kanye West, or whether they prefer to use Twitter as a marketing tool – looking at you Kimmy K – we just can’t seem to get enough of it!
Gone are the days where Twitter was used as a sharing platform for close friends and family – my Twitter feed these days generally consists of celebrities and politicians tweeting about their next upcoming album/movie/election/public appearance.
When did Twitter become a digital marketing tool?
Nowadays, it’s quite standard for your Twitter feed to be bombarded with paid endorsements from celebrities and influencers such as Justin Bieber and Khloe Kardashian – but how does Twitter seem to make the experience just that little bit more personalised, and why as consumers, do we continue to feed into the illusion?
Kent State University found that when celebrities tweet about personal aspects of their everyday life, this is known to positively affect our parasocial interaction with celebrities, hence creating a sense of a more intimate “connection.” Moreover, when celebrities directly communicated with their fans and followers, this was found to further the connection as fans often felt as if the celebrity was actually socially present in their life.
This form of communication between celebrity and fan has also been found to create a sense of credibility and trust (in almost all cases…mostly felt by the fans); 49% of users were found to rely on recommendations made by influencers on Twitter when making purchasing decisions. And when influencers or celebrities tweeted about a specific brand or product, purchase intent actually increased by 5.2% – a 2.5% increase when compared to the results of brands tweeting about their own products or services.
Hence, by combining one celebrity and one paying company we have ourselves a paid endorsement.
This form of paid endorsement – while widely used across various social media platforms – is not always considered to be the most ethical. The lack of transparency around endorsed tweets raises concerns from the Federal Trade Commission, in that followers may fail to actually realise the tweets are a form of advertising…meaning that people actually believe celebrities truly endorse the product or service being mentioned. Regardless of this, companies still continue to use this method as a regular marketing tool…and celebrities still agree to endorse their product…and we still succumb to their “recommendatons.”
While marketing agencies revel in our vulnerability to the celebrity status, they’re presence on Twitter is not always sales driven! Companies and businesses also utilize Twitter as a platform to communicate directly with their customers. Twitter has given them the ability to trouble shoot and problem solve, establish stronger relationships with their consumers, and conduct market research all under the one platform. The conversational setting of Twitter also further allows companies and their customers to engage in a two-way dialogue, which can be extremely beneficial for both parties.
Successful Twitter accounts will often “banter” with other users on Twitter in a light-hearted and humorous manner.
So if you’ve recently found that scrolling through your Twitter feed just isn’t as satisfying as it used to be; you might not be the only one. With the rapid growth of Twitter and the continued celebrity endorsements, promotions and collaborations, that 500 million figure just seems to be climbing higher and higher each day. And while most of us love to feel that little bit closer to our favourite celebrities by buying their “favourite”/”holy grail” products, how much more thinning must our wallets endure?